By MARGARET BLOHM
For the Times-Herald
DEARBORN — Diane Nagy, an enthusiastic Detroit Red Wings fan, was on a mission to share her love for hockey with others at Beaumont Rehabilitation and Continuing Care.
Nagy, who works at the Beaumont campus in Dearborn, scored a goal when she recruited former Red Wing John Ogrodnick to visit and autograph photos for residents, family members and staff.
Ogrodnick was drafted by the Red Wings in 1979 and played almost nine seasons with the team, followed by half a season for the Quebec Nordiques and five seasons for the New York Rangers, before retiring in 1993, having played 928 NHL games, and scoring 402 goals and 425 assists for 827 points.
The retired left winger, now 60, lives in Farmington Hills and is an active member and past vice president of the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association.
During his visit, Ogrodnick shared that he still skates every week, plays at least 15 charity events a year and participates in the NHL alumni group in Ontario.
Although Ogrodnick admitted this was his first visit to a senior community, he quickly engaged in humorous exchanges with residents and staff, and received comments from the women who noted, “He’s nice looking.”
Resident Virginia Alfano, 95, was accompanied by her son, Frank LaFeve, who had seen Ogrodnick play for the Red Wings. When the flirtatious Alfano asked Ogrodnick how old he was, he quickly replied, “too old for you.”
Ogrodnick’s new fans also were interested to learn how and where he learned to skate. Born in Ottawa, his dad was in the Canadian Air Force, and he was raised in western Canada, three hours north of Edmonton in northern Alberta.
“That far north we skated on roads that were all ice,” he said.
After Ogrodnick signed dozens of photographs of himself as a young Red Wings player, he realized he was running out of photos and had to retrieve more from his vehicle.
Also sporting Red Wings attire, Activities Supervisor Angela Gielow, reported that the Red Wings’ and Ogrodnick’s fan base increased significantly on their campus.
“Mr. Ogrodnick was so kind to all of the residents and staff he met,” Gielow said. “It meant a lot to them. We also appreciated Diane’s initiative in recruiting him.”
“It lifted my heart to see how an alum of my favorite sports team was able to connect so well with the people I help care for every day,” Nagy said.
When talking about his visit, Ogrodnick said: “It makes me feel good when I can put a smile on residents’ faces. I also respect the people who provide the care, because they work hard. It’s not an easy job. I’m glad to make them happy, too.”